Corgarff Military Road
Start location: A939, northwest of Ordgarff (NJ 296 063)
End location: A939, 1.5km past the summit of the Glas Choille road (NJ 262 086)
Geographical area: Grampian
Path Type: Military Road
Path distance: 4.5km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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From the Glas Choille road (A939), the Old Military Road crosses to Donside. 1½ km beyond the summit of the A939, strike left along the Old Military Road across the Burn of Tornahaish, down to the River Don and up its south bank to Cock Bridge.
OS Landranger 37 (Strathdon)
Although there are at least two remaining 'Wade' bridges on this stretch of Military Road, it was actually one of the many military roads built under Major William Caulfeild after General Wade left the Highlands in 1740.
This small section is part of the military road that ran from Coupar Angus to Fort George through Braemar, Corgarff and Grantown-on-Spey. It was a 100 mile stretch of road, which took 9 years to build between 1748 and 1757 and must have taken a very good line as the majority of the modern road follows it, this part being a notable exception. Other sections can be seen between Blairgowrie and Bridge of Cally and north of Grantown-on-Spey.
During the 1750s Caulfeild was undertaking other massive road building projects and so by the 1760s travellers would have been able to go by military road, from Corgarff to Stonehaven via Aberdeen, and to Portsoy or Fochabers by way of Huntly. A road was later built to Fettercairn, which gave people another option from Corgarff.
Corgarff Castle is a tower-house, located on sloping land to the south of the River Don, built as a hunting-lodge in the mid-sixteenth century. Although by the eighteenth century, tower-houses were going out of fashion, Corgarff's survival probably resulted from its strategic position. It was used by Jacobite troops during the '15 and '45 uprisings. Following the Battle of Culloden in 1746 the castle came into government hands and was converted into a Hanoverian garrison in 1748, forming part of the route to the new Fort George. The building was originally a three-storeyed tower-house, with a tall, vaulted hall on the first floor. Following the occupation of the castle by the government, another floor was inserted, to provide additional accommodation, and an eight-point curtain wall was constructed around the building, in a star-shape, with slits through which muskets could be fired. The army left the building in 1831, and it was subsequently used as a whisky-still and accommodation for agricultural labourers, before being restored in the 1960s.
The hill Cairn Leac Saighaeir (the Cairn of the Soldier) lies just to the southwest of this section of the military road to Corgarff. "This is a story I can remember my father telling me. It was in turn told to him by his grandfather Alexander McHardy (1856 - 1939). I have never seen it written down in any volume. A Redcoat soldier was attacked and murdered by a McHardy while carrying the payroll for Corgarff Castle through the hills from Braemar. He was killed at the back of Carn Leac Saighaeir. As he lay on the ground dying he cursed the individual who had slain him so that his breed would die out. The last of this line was alleged to be Miss Janet McHardy who ran the Corgarff shop and Post Office at Greenbank." - with thanks to the McHardy family of Corryhoul website.